Netbook Optimized Ping-Eee OS Review

Most of you must have heard about PinguyOS already, one of my favourite among Ubuntu derivatives. Now, they have released another version of PinguyOS called Ping-Eee OS which is supposedly optimized for small screen netbooks. Interestingly, the release coincided with my purchase of Linux pre installed Acer Aspire One D260 netbook. I was not really impressed by the default Linpus Lite OS that came with it and decided to give Ping-Eee OS a spin in my newly acquired Intel Atom powered Acer Aspire One netbook.

Ping-Eee OS review

What is Ping-Eee OS?
Ping-Eee OS is built and compiled using the ASUS Eee Netbook and is designed from the ground up to run on netbooks. Even though it uses Ubuntu 11.04 as platform, it use classic GNOME instead of Unity as its default desktop and Compiz version 0.8.6 instead of 0.9.4, pros and cons of which we will discuss later.

Ping-Eee OS - First Impressions

Ping-Eee OS

Ping-Eee OS ISO size is around 1.5 GB and after installation it occupies around 7 GB 4.23GB of your disk space, not very ideal statistics for a netbook optimized OS I believe. For example, Elementary OS codenamed 'Jupiter' occupy less than 3GB of disk space after installation. Though I have to add that, Ping-Eee OS comes with a ton of extra applications.

Ping-Eee OS Acer Aspire One Review

Speaking of extra applications, Docky is pre installed in Ping-Eee OS with intellihide/autohide options disabled by default. That was a bit of surprise to me since in netbooks, vertical space is a scarce resource and it is one of the reasons why distros like Ubuntu, in its latest latest release, has launcher on the left sidebar(which itself is set to autohide). Changing the Docky settings to 'Intellihide' was the first thing I did after installing Ping-Eee OS in my netbook.

Mozilla Firefox is the default web browser and since I have been a rather heavy user of Chromium for the past one year or so, I am not really comfortable with Firefox anymore. Fired up the terminal and sudo apt-g.., surprise again. Auto tab completion was not there! Took some time a fair amount of googling to find the solution. Apparently, auto complete was disabled by default.

That's pretty much it, the only problems I faced with Ping-Eee OS. The original Pinguy OS had a lot of applications, a LOT more than I ever needed. Much to my delight, Ping-Eee OS is a seriously stripped down version of PinguyOS with a lot lesser applications. Take Ubuntu for example, even though it is less than 700MB in size, applications like Brasero Disc burner is totally useless from a netbook perspective. There are no CD/DVD burning tools in Ping-Eee OS and a lot of other applications like Gnome DO, Glipper etc. have been removed.

Ping-Eee OS Performance
Before eventually installing Ping-Eee OS, I had tried Elementary OS and Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal in my netbook. Interesting thing about the whole experience was that, I was more comfortable with using the supposedly netbook optimized Ubuntu 11.04 Unity UI in my 15.4" laptop than in my 10.1" Acer Aspire One netbook. That has more to do with the performance optimizations of Ping-Eee OS and less to do with Unity desktop I believe.

Ping-Eee OS Acer Aspire One Review

Speaking of optimizations, Ping-Eee OS comes with Granola and Jupiter pre installed. Granola reduces the active power of personal computers without negatively affecting performance. Under the hood Granola is dynamically managing the frequency of your CPU, also known as DVFS. Jupiter is a simple, easy to use hardware and power management applet for all i386 and x86_64 Linux laptops and netbooks.

Ping-Eee OS Acer Aspire One Review

Downgraded Compiz 0.8.6 is one of its other important 'feature'. How about that! Compiz is undergoing some major changes along with Ubuntu, which whole heartedly embraced Compiz when GNOME ditched it for Mutter. Joke apart, Compiz 0.8.6 had many useful plugins which is not yet available in its latest iteration. I initially tried Elementary OS 'Jupiter' with this in mind since it is based on Ubuntu 10.10. One of the Compiz plugins I dearly miss in Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal is the desktop zoom functionality(see screenshot above), which is enabled by default in Ping-Eee OS and it works super smooth(keyboard shortcut: super + scroll).

There is another important thing you need to do after installing *any* Linux distro with Kernel version 2.6.38 or above. 'Linux Kernel has a pretty significant power issue starting with version 2.6.38 which hasn't been fixed yet. This bug causes power consumption to go up by nearly 30% (and hence a shorter battery life)'. See detailed instructions at webupd8.
Apart from all that, the default applications set in Ping-Eee OS include Nautilus-Elementary, Ailurus, Ubuntu Tweak, Shutter screenshot app, Cheese Webcam app, LibreOffice suite, VLC, Dropbox to name a few. Clementine music player has replaced Rhythmbox as well. If you are a netbook user and if you like Ubuntu, Ping-Eee OS is something you are going to love. An Ubuntu based distro that works truly out-of-the-box. I am going to use it in my Acer Aspire One netbook until at least the next major Ubuntu release, Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot ie.